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Update on Loaves & Fishes’ New Year’s Day abrupt closure of Friendship Park

Entrance to Friendship Park as seen from the cul-de-sac on North C, abutting 12th St.
I have been given some details about the closure of Loaves & Fishes’ Friendship Park on New Year’s Day. The park was closed at about 10am, after it had been homeless people’s understanding the park would be open regular weekend hours on the holiday.

The marijuana incident was thus: One of the Green Hats, Park staff people, had smelled the strong scent of pot coming from the men’s bathroom in the park. When he went inside the restroom no one was the there, but the scent was strong and undeniably that of marijuana. This Green Hat had the authority to close the park; neither of the co-directors of the park was there that day.

I am told that since the individuals who had been smoking in the bathroom weren’t there to be identified and then punished in some way, it was the determination of this Green Hat to close the park, then, rather than keeping it open until its announced closure time of 1pm. This was Park policy.

I am told that it is now Loaves & Fishes’ policy to punish misbehavior in the park in this way:
If the specific persons who misbehave — by running into the park or acting violently or using banned substances — can be identified, they will be excluded from use of the park or the Loaves & Fishes Mall of Services for the day, and likely for a period of time thereafter if not “for life.”

If misbehavior is determined to have occurred, but the individuals who are causal of the actions cannot be identified, then the park is emptied in an expression of management’s disapproval and to exert control.
While this is an improvement [of sorts] on Loaves & Fishes’ longstanding policy of punishing everybody in the park even for many instances when those who had broken the rules were identifiable, it is still a policy that is “opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice."* It is still a policy that uses Collective Punishment to appease the wrath of egocentric management.

Loaves & Fishes remains outside the realm of civilized First World society. It is still acting like North Korea.

I mean, I cannot even think of an organization other than Loaves & Fishes, in the civilized world, that intimidates people by Collective Punishment and by threats of destroying people's property**.  They are out there on an island by themselves of behavior that is beyond the pale.

Yes, military boot camps and Scouts and sports teams and other groups vying to create a team may use Collective Punishment but they are in the business of trying to create a collective.  Homeless adults are individually trying to pull their lives together; they are the furthest thing from "a team."  Homeless adults individually have appointments and obligations and efforts going to get their lives ontrack which Loaves & Fishes management's cruel and vain policies disrupt.

Imagine a justice system that cannot find someone to punish for a crime. Would it suffice ‘as justice’ for all of a hundred suspects to instead be punished, en masse? Of course not.  It would be backward and show that the organization wasn’t being run in adult-to-adult transaction mode, rather in parent-to-child.

Sacramento businesses and citizens donate money and items and time to Loaves & Fishes in an effort to benefit homeless people such that those people can get their lives back ontrack, not to feed a nanny governance policy run by control freaks.

Loaves & Fishes mucky mucks should meet and try to figure out what the purpose of their organization ought to be.  Right now, they are marbling in a load of misery with what good they dispense.  But, it is hard to imagine leadership at L&F ever doubting themselves or thinking about what it is they are doing.  They've gone this far off into the Dark Wood of  a complete disconnect with any benevolent mission to aid the homeless, they likely could never find their way back/out.

The earlier sacHO blogpost on this matter can be found here:  "In an act of Collective Punishment, Loaves & Fishes closes its park in the morning on New Year’s Day," posted Jan 3, 2011.
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*   Quoting the International Committee of the Red Cross regarding Collective Punishment

**  Loaves & Fishes' Park management threatens people with 'destruction of their property' when items are left in Day Storage overnight, or when homeless people park their carts where park management doesn't want them to.  Also, as blogged earlier, L&F operates a locker rental 'business' without attention to any rights of the rentees.  Basically, L&F thinks it's a nation unto itself, without any obligation of following due process … like North Korea.

Comments

Nagarjuna said…
"Sacramento businesses and citizens donate money and items and time to Loaves & Fishes in an effort to benefit homeless people such that those people can get their lives back ontrack, not to feed a nanny goverance policy run by control freaks."

I think that says it as well as it can be said. Sister Libby and L&F supporters, are you listening?

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